As an outdoor photographer and digital artist, I find it fun to experiment with creative effects in post-processing. Here is a super easy and super fast way to completely transform a photograph by inverting images in Photoshop and then applying textures and colors in Topaz Texture Effects.
Here is an image of birch trees reflecting in a pond at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area near Grantsburg, Wisconsin. Not a bad image, but nothing that really makes my head turn, either.
I tried a few other edits using different color palettes, but nothing really got my attention. Here is an edit using Topaz Restyle to make it more of a cooler tones “winter” look:
Another edit using Nik Color Efex Pro to give it a warmer look:
These edits were “OK” but nothing special.
Then I tried inverting the original image in Photoshop. By inverting, I don’t mean flipping it upside down – I mean making it look more like a negative. Simply open the image in Photoshop and hit “Ctrl” “I” (command “I” on a Mac).
I then took the inverted image in to Topaz Texture Effects and added texture and a color overlay. This is surreal!
It really is that easy! Complete transformation of a typical landscape photograph in about 5 minutes. While I like the looks I got with the other edits, inverting images in Photoshop gives this particular image a completely different and surreal look that really grabs my attention. With just a fast and simple trick. I don’t think this type of edit would work with every image, but for trees or forest scenes it seems to come out rather nicely. Give it a try and see what you think!
If you follow my blog at all, you know that I’m a HUGE fan of Topaz Labs photo editing products. While most photo editing software plug-ins need to work within Photoshop or Lightroom, Topaz Texture Effects works as a plug-in as well as a stand alone program. I personally find their software very easy to use, but there are plenty of free tutorials available on YouTube if you need a little help or would like to get some tips and tricks that may not be as obvious. For example, check out this video tutorial of Topaz Texture Effects basic tour by Mark Johnson:
Mark goes through all of the different layer adjustment options:
Dust and Scratches
Import Your Own Textures
The cool thing is – you don’t have to settle for one of the 275+ assets that come pre-loaded with the software; you can upload your own assets and use them within the program as well. Mark shows you just how simple it is.
Share With the Online Community
Furthermore, there is an online community that you get instant access to within the program where you can download pre-sets that others have created! If you want to create your own pre-sets from scratch, you can do that too – and share them with the online community with a single click if you wish. Mark shows you how to do that, too.
Fully Customize Your Image
You can edit any layer in the preloaded pre-sets by deleting, changing, or adding different adjustment options to each image. You can add multiple layers of similar adjustments if you’d like; two different light leaks, for example. Since every adjustment comes with a layer mask, you can customize each layer by choosing what parts of the image you want to apply a particular effect to. You don’t even have to start with a pre-set; you can simply open an image in Texture Effects and edit from scratch like I did with this double exposure of Sandhill Cranes and the moon 🙂
Save $20 Thru January
Since Topaz Labs just updated Texture Effects by fixing some minor bugs and adding EVEN MORE textures and assets, they are offering $20 off the software through January 31, 2016! That means you get it for only $49.99 instead of a still bargain price of $69.99.
Like all Topaz Labs products, you can get a FREE 30 day trial on their software and any future updates are always FREE 🙂
In case you’ve missed the previous sales, Topaz Texture Effects just had it’s first upgrade since inception a few months ago and they’re celebrating with a BIG SALE! Save $20 onTopaz Texture Effects through January 31, 2016! Regularly priced at $69.99, you can now snag it for only $49.99!
I already wrote a post introducing the original program which includes a library of over 150 expertly crafted presets, 275+ high-resolution textures and effects, and instant access to effects other Topaz users have shared with the new Topaz Community, but now it’s even better 🙂
Edited in Topaz Texture Effects
The update includes:
42 NEW textures
15 NEW effects
A whole new Weather category in the Texture Adjustment panel
All of this added to an already spectacular product that works as a stand alone photo editing program as well as a plug-in for Photoshop or Lightroom 🙂
I enjoy many of Topaz Labs photo editing software products, but they hit it out of the park with this one IMHO.
As with all Topaz products – try it free for 30 days. And unlike most of the competition, upgrades are FREE for life 🙂
In case you missed all of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, you still have time to capitalize on Topaz Labs Holiday Sale!
If you’ve visited this site before, you know that I LOVE Topaz Labs photo editing software products! Their products have saved me more hours than I can count in the photo editing process and some of their presets even help stimulate new ideas.
The discount applies to any one of their 17 different products, or you can get the entire suite (highly recommended).
Topaz Labs products come with pre-loaded presets, but also allow you total control to just start from scratch or edit any preset you may start with.
Favorite Topaz Labs Products
Clarity: this isn’t just a simple clarity slider like you find in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. This one allows you to control contrast at the micro, low, medium and high levels without getting artificial artifacts – as well as mask out areas of the image where you don’t want the effect applied. Works as a plug-in to Photoshop or Lightroom.
Detail: crystal clear sharpness without noise. I especially like this product for macro shots of flowers or foliage, or fur and feathers on critters. Want to see every last detail of that Bald Eagle feather? Here ya go. Works as a plug-in to Photoshop or Lightroom.
Impression: awesome for converting photos to a variety of different painterly effects or drawings. Watercolors, oils, Monet, charcoal drawings – no problem. Works as a stand alone or as a plug-in.
Adjust: this is an older product and one that I’m just starting to use. It has an amazing technology called “adaptive exposure” that I still can’t really wrap my head around, but it evens out shadows and highlights without getting artificial looking or noisy. Certainly not like just moving the highlights and shadows sliders. Also allows for adjustments to color and detail. Works as a plug-in to Photoshop or Lightroom.
Glow: one of the newer products and one that’s easy to go “over the top” with. Yes, you can add electrifying effects to photos and make them otherworldly. I find it a cool program to use as a subtle way to bump up color or other smoothing effects when you dial it waaaay down. The fur and feather presets are my typical starting point, even if the image I’m applying it to doesn’t have fur or feathers. Neon can be a ton of fun, too 🙂
Simplify: I like this one for creating painterly effects, too. I gave a tutorial about how I used it to create surreal forest effects recently. Works as a plug-in to Photoshop or Lightroom.
Restyle: want to mess around with color palates? This is the product for you! Another program that comes with a ton of presets (some you’d never think of on your own) that can also be tweaked to taste. Comes as a stand alone program or works as a plug-in.
Remask: the easiest mask selection tool I have found thus far for making composites. Hands down.
Star Effects: just did a tutorial about a sneaky little trick in this product that makes adding realistic star effects to images a snap. Works as a plug-in.
Texture Effects: this is a brand new product and one of my all time favorites – for real! You can not only add textures, but you can create double exposures with ease – especially since it’s ridiculously easy to add your own texture files (or any other file, for that matter). I wrote a post about Texture Effects recently and will probably write a quick tutorial about how to do double exposures with it soon. It comes with a boat load of high resolution textures, dust and scratches, and other assets, so it’s a monster download! Another unique feature – you can create your own presets and share with the Topaz community – as well as download other people’s presets if you want to. Works as a stand alone or plug-in.
This is just a sampling of what’s available from Topaz – they have 17 different products currently available. I also appreciate that any future updates to their products are FREE rather than asking you to pay for an upgrade. Any new products are offered at a discount to those who’ve purchased from them in the past.
Topaz offers a 30 day free trial if you want to try before you buy. Or go ahead, take advantage of the Topaz Labs holiday sale and buy it now to save 35% 🙂
In this tutorial, I will show you how to add stars to your photos in a few easy steps using Topaz LabsStar Effects.
Split Rock Lighthouse
First, you will need to do any basic edits in your regular photo editing software. Topaz Star Effects works as a plug-in to Photoshop or Lightroom and is not a stand alone product.
Edit Your Image In Topaz Star Effects
When you first bring your prepped image in to Topaz Star Effects, you will notice three main areas of the screen. The left column shows the presets and the smaller image at the top of the stack gives you a preview of each preset as you hover over it. The large middle screen is what’s happening with your image as you apply the actions that you choose. For this particular image, I chose the preset “Lamp Post One” and at this point it looks like a hot mess.
Now go over to the panel on the far right side of the screen. Under “Star Settings” you can choose different star types. For this image I went with traditional.
Further down on the right side are the “Main Adjustments” – take the threshold slider all the way to the right. I think of the threshold as being similar to an opacity slider for a layer mask. Bringing it all the way to the right will hide all of the star effects.
Go back up to “Star Settings” and you’ll notice there are show / hide stars buttons. Choose “show.” This will act similar to a brush on a mask in Photoshop – your mouse will look like a small button with crosshairs and anywhere you click on the image will allow the star effect to show through. In this image, I clicked on the reflector inside the lighthouse window so that only the one star shows in the image.
You can fine tune your star effect further by going back down to the main adjustments and playing with luminance, how many points you want your star to have, size, spread, angle, etc. Further down on the right side there are even more adjustments for color, temperature settings, and additional adjustments for glow or ring flare. For this image, I only adjusted the number of points from twelve to six and I was done in minutes!
I find all of the Topaz products fun and easy to use – and I can do many things in a fraction of the time it would take in Photoshop. So, if you want to add stars to your photos in a few easy steps, give Topaz Star Effects a try! They have FREE 30 day trials on all of their software, and updates for each product are free for life 🙂
If you’d like to purchase a print of this image of Split Rock Lighthouse for your home or office decor, it’s now available in the Landscape gallery both with and without the star effect!
Now available in their own online texture gallery are several “unique to the North Woods” high resolution textures available for purchase!
High Resolution Textures
These textures are all from photos that I took myself on a DSLR of some of the resources that can be unique to the Upper Midwest region, such as:
Lake Superior shoreline
Lake Michigan beaches
tree bark from birch and other North Woods species
rock and stones
plants and grasses
snow and ice
All of the textures have been adjusted to 50% gray in Photoshop (you’re welcome) and can be applied to your images in Photoshop or uploaded in to your own assets library in Topaz Texture Effects.
How much do these unique high resolution textures cost?
Only $1 per single photo with a $5 minimum purchase.
That gives you a perpetual, non-exclusive license with significant freedoms and helps me cover costs associated with hosting the files on a proofing site, credit card processing / bank fees, file delivery, buying gas & groceries, paying the landlord, etc.
Who can use these high resolution textures?
You can use them for personal or commercial use.
Who retains copyright to any high resolution textures that I download from this site?
Do I need to provide attribution for any textures that I download from this site?
While a link back to this site is appreciated if you use one of my files to enhance your image, it is not required. Who the hell can remember where they downloaded all of their different textures from anyway? Let’s keep it simple.
Are there any restrictions on my use of textures that I download from this site?
Yes. You may not resell or redistribute any of my photos (duh), or allow the use of my photos on print-on-demand products. Simple. Other than that, you are granted a wide range of freedom to use the files in your projects and alter if desired.
Will the textures I download have watermarks?
No. The watermark that shows on the files in the proofing gallery will NOT be on the downloaded photo.
Is there a minimum order?
There is a $5 minimum at this time.
How do I get the files?
Just add the files you want to purchase to your shopping cart when you visit the texture gallery and you will get an email telling you how to access the download once your payment is processed. Please be sure to check your spam folder if you do not receive an email soon after completing your purchase (it will come from the proofing site, not from northwoodsphotos.com).
What format are the photos?
All the textures are high resolution jpg files at 300 dpi.
I will be adding more textures to the online gallery as time allows. If you have any other questions – feel free to ask! 🙂
Want to learn a fast easy way to turn “blah” forest photos into something surreal? I’m going to show you a way to get two different options out of the same “ho-hum” forest photo in just a few easy steps using Lightroom with either Photoshop for the blur option or Topaz Labs plug-ins for a super fast impressionist painterly effect.
Original Forest Photo
I took this during the middle of a sunny day at St. Croix State Park when the light was a bit harsh. I really liked the way the forest looked in real life, but the image straight out of the camera was, well…. lackluster to say the least.
Original Edits in Lightroom
For this one, I only did some very basic edits in Lightroom: brought the temp slider down to emphasize the blues and turned the hue slider on the aqua channel way up. You may have to make different tweaks depending on the image you’re starting with.
Option One – Linear Blur
From this point, I did two different edits starting with the basic Lightroom adjustments. For the first, I then took the photo in to Photoshop CS6 -> duplicate layer -> Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur and adjust to taste. For this one I had the angle at 90 and distance at 500 pixels. I used the normal blending mode at opacity of about 76. Save and fin:
Option Two – Impressionist Painting
The second option was to take the basic Lightroom adjusted photo in to Topaz Clean to de-clutter some of the details. I wasn’t really satisfied at this point as it wasn’t the end result I was looking for, so I then tried Topaz Simplify and chose the Impressions Natural preset in the Painting category. In this case, I probably didn’t need Topaz Clean to get the result I ended up with. Since the Topaz Labs plug-ins work with either Photoshop or Lightroom, you can use them with either. I didn’t really tweak it beyond that except to add a vignette when I brought it back to Lightroom. Fin.
I got two completely different abstract forest photos that you’d never know came from the original – all in about 10 minutes. And I was lolly gagging. I’m not sure which edit I like better – I like them both for different reasons. I hope you like them, too! If so, do you have a favorite?
Topaz Labs is rolling out their holiday sale – and it’s a doozy!
From November 25-30, Topaz Labs is offering 50% off of the full Topaz Photography Collection. Whether you want to achieve stunning photo enhancements or apply artistic effects, this unique collection has you covered.
With the recent addition of Topaz Texture Effects, the Photography Collection now includes 17 products for only $499.99. With the 50% discount, new users can purchase the entire collection for ONLY $249.99! The savings aren’t just for new collection purchases either. Owners of the older Topaz Collections can take advantage of the savings as well! You will just need to log in to your account to see your unique Collection upgrade price, then apply the code for 50% additional savings! And with Topaz Labs, you NEVER have to pay for upgrades to the individual products you purchase 🙂
You can also download a free 30 day trial before making any purchase to take the software for a test drive. It integrates seamlessly with Photoshop and Lightroom, and some of the products also work as stand alone programs.
There’s more to making a “pretty picture” than just composing the shot and getting your aperture, shutter speed, exposure and focus just right. Photo editing in post processing is a completely different and important skill in and of itself. It can be time consuming, turn a “meh” shot into a “wow!” shot and can be a ton of fun. And since I shoot in RAW, post processing is a necessity. Here’s just one recent example of how changing the color scheme of a shot from the North Shore of Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota gives it a whole new look and feel:
Straight Out of the Camera
This is what it looked like straight out of the camera with no editing at all. I took this shot just before 9 am in mid-September, so the light wasn’t horrible but was starting to get a little harsh. It was a 13 second exposure using a polarizer and a 9 stop ND filter.
A Variety of Photo Edits
Just basic edits to bump up the shadows and add a touch of clarity & vibrance, then a bit of split toning to warm up the rocks and brighten the blues in the sky and water.
Topaz Labs has some of my favorite plug-ins to stimulate new ideas and ReStyle has some pretty crazy options to choose from! I like the way you can create different moods just by changing the color, tone, or contrast of the image, which can make it look like you were there at a different time of day or night. Some look realistic and some are way out there. Here are just two examples:
Nik Collection Color Efex Pro 4
Nik has some interesting plug-ins as well. For landscapes, I like the cool / warm grad filters in Color Efex Pro. I think this is my favorite edit of the bunch for this particular image!
Nik Collection Silver Efex Pro 2
If I’m in a hurry and want to convert a shot to black and white, Silver Efex Pro is my starting point! You’d be surprised at how many different options there are just in black and white! Otherwise, there’s always curves and channels in Photoshop where I can dial it in EXACTLY the way I want it – if I take the time.
As you can see, the exact same image can take on a completely different mood just by doing basic edits. Some of the third party filter plug-ins can make it very easy to experiment, which sometimes gives me ideas that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of otherwise. In addition to color scheme changes, there are endless other options as well, such as adding textures (OnOne has some good textures that can be used in Perfect Effects), painterly effects (Topaz Impression is awesome), double exposures, or more extreme edits in Photoshop. Although I don’t usually rely on plug-ins (I like to treat each image as a stand alone subject), it’s fun to try new things!
How do you do your photo editing? Which of these edits do you like best?